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My parents, who are otherwise absolutely lovely people, are not that fond of animals, so I did not have a dog growing up. The year I was three, we spent one year away from Wisconsin in Palo Alto, California while my professor Dad was on sabbatical. I was ecstatic to learn that an Old English Sheep Dog lived across the street from us. I loved that dog! I used to go over to visit him as often as I was allowed.
I have no memories whatsoever of the people who lived there, but they must have been very nice because they tolerated me coming over to lie on the floor next to their dog (whose name is lost to family memory) and talking to him. (Even back then I would talk to anyone—some things never change!)
I would gently use my finger to hold up all the hair that grew over his beautiful eyes so that I could see them. He was remarkably patient with me, and it’s really a wonder I was never bitten with that kind of fearlessness and presumptuousness around dogs. (Some things DO change and I know better now!)
This is my earliest memory of dogs, and it’s such a fond one. I still feel all warm and fuzzy when I think of the time I spent visiting that dog, and I’m grateful to have had such a positive experience.
In contrast, my husband’s first memory of dogs is of being terrorized by Dobermans who lived behind him. He and his brothers were never actually hurt by those dogs on the other side of the fence, but the growling and barking certainly scared them. My husband loves dogs (Thank goodness we’re not a mixed marriage in that way!) but his warmest thoughts of canines don’t go back to his earliest memories of them.
What are your earliest memories of dogs and how have they influenced you?